Brave Thinkers

For more than 150 years, The Atlantic has celebrated the moral and intellectual bravery of leaders who espouse unpopular or controversial positions. In this special report, our second annual, we highlight men and women who embody this great tradition today.


153 Years of Bold Ideas: From the Atlantic Archives

Newspaper Morals

During an era characterized by muckraking and sensationalism, the social critic H. L. Mencken decried the tendency of popular newspapers to appeal to the unsophisticated instincts of the masses. (March 1914)

Report Card:
Last Year's List

In 2009, The Atlantic's Brave Thinkers issue featured newsmakers like Jeff Zucker and Ben Bernanke along with innovators like Montgomery McFate, a social scientist reshaping the way we approach war. A look at how their bold initiatives have fared in the past year.

American Everyman

In 2004, the novelist and essayist Walter Kirn took stock of Warren Buffett  —"the greatest investor in America's history" — offering insight into the man, his methods, and his outsize symbolism. (November 2004)

The Captivity of Marriage

Two years before Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique articulated “the problem that has no name,” novelist and essayist Nora Johnson described the frustrations of the well-educated homemaker. (June 1961)

Bystanders to Genocide

Seven years after the Rwandan genocide, journalist and activist Samantha Power explored in chilling detail why no one intervened. The piece was later incorporated in her book, A Problem From Hell, which was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2003. (September 2001)

Mr. Churchill

In 1949, the philosopher and historian Isaiah Berlin paid tribute to the character and writings of Winston Churchill, whose gift, he argued, was his "historical imagination"—a capacity to imbue contemporary events and actors with epic significance. (September 1949)

Spotlight

Michael T. Flynn

As the U.S.’s top military intelligence officer in Afghanistan, Flynn, saw serious problems with the way the military gathered intelligence—and went outside its channels to demand change.

The 2010 List

From the Editors

A look at the magazine’s tradition of challenging established wisdom, which has led to stories both celebrated and strange.